In search of alternative ways to fund transportation
projects in Tennessee, a leading state lawmaker is drafting measures that would
set up a special commission to oversee toll routes and public-private road
House Transportation Committee Chair Phillip Pinion, D-Union City, said all alternative funding methods need to be on the table.
According to the state's long-range transportation plan, the
Tennessee Department of Transportation will face funding deficits by 2008 and
an accumulated shortfall of $2 billion by 2015.
Agency officials have said adding toll roads, public-private
partnerships, indexing the fuel tax or setting up a state infrastructure bank
would help the state foot the bill for roadwork. The state infrastructure bank
would involve pooling money and loaning it for transportation projects, the Chattanooga
Times Free Press reported.
Not all state legislators are onboard with the idea of a
commission looking specifically at toll roads or public-private partnerships.
Rep. Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, said surplus money could be
used for transportation projects.
"I don't think we need more taxes or tolls and burden the
people, especially when we have a surplus," Watson told The Associated Press.
Any toll road or public-private partnership would need to be
approved by state lawmakers and the governor.